Bali bomber Amrozi’s death sentence has generated some strange resonances with the just-concluded Troppo Armadillo debate on Alison Broinowski’s ideas about Asian perceptions of Australia. The first is that Amrozi’s apparent apology to Australians (dealt with below by Christopher Sheil) seems to give the lie conclusively to the Broinowski/Deegan position on Bali i.e. it was “blowback” for our Ockerish projection of western values and alignment with the Yanks. Of course that won’t stop either of them from continuing to make such claims, or the ABC or Silly Moaning Hillmer from reporting them uncritically. Maybe that’s the real reason why they’ve failed to report Amrozi’s apology.
The second resonance is that many of the same people who most enthusiastically embraced Broinowski’s advocacy of expedient grovelling at the feet of “Asian values” are now demanding equally stridently that Howard and Crean should rebuke the Indonesians for failing to embody left-liberal values of opposition to capital punishment. Consistency isn’t a prized virtue on the left. In fact just about their only consistent attribute is an irresistible compulsion to stampede to what they perceive as the moral high ground on every occasion, from whose commanding heights they pour vats of patronising moral censure on the lumpen masses below.
Meanwhile, we benighted centrists wallow in pits of sticky marshmallow, eternally caught in the crossfire between serried legions of ideological warriors. As Geoff Honnor put it the other day:
A quite extraordinary amount of energy goes into discovering what you ‘really’ think in order that you might be ‘fitted’ neatly into the appropriate partisan slot. There’s almost a subtext continuum of pinning the political tail on the centrist donkey which, if you think about it, is actually quite dispiriting. The notion that you might arrive at quite different rational conclusions on any particular political or sociocultural topic – according to the analysis you employ – is actually quite threatening to many people.
Sometimes I feel more like a pygmy shrew than an armadillo.